No. 11 Virginia Tech Overwhelmed In Loss To No. 14 Notre Dame

Georgia Amoore and Virginia Tech were overwhelmed against Notre Dame. (Ivan Morozov)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — No. 11 Virginia Tech was overwhelmed against No. 14 Notre Dame without Elizabeth Kitley in an 82-53 loss in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

“Obviously disappointed,” Tech head coach Kenny Brooks said. “Was not our night. I don’t think we played well, especially well enough to advance to the ACC championship game. But we’ll get back at it … and we’ll get back to what we do best and get ready for the NCAA Tournament.”

The Hokies (24-7) hung around with the Irish (25-6) in the first half despite shooting 29 percent (9-of-31), their worst mark in the first half against an ACC team since making just 23 percent against Notre Dame on Dec. 18, 2022. In fact, they’ve been held below 30 percent in three of their last four first halves in the series.

Tech had some really good looks early, especially from behind the arc, where it was 3-of-12 (and 8-of-28 for the game). Foul trouble made things difficult — Cayla King missed the entire second quarter with two personals while Carleigh Wenzel, Carys Baker and Samyha Suffren picked up two — and though Georgia Amoore had a team-high nine points at halftime, she made just four of her 12 attempts.

The Hokies were in the game because of their defense, which limited the Irish to a 37 percent clip (11-of-30). They were up 23-20 on the glass at intermission, too, and held ACC Rookie of the Year Hannah Hidalgo to just four points on 1-of-7 shooting.

Then the tide turned. A 33-23 game at the break in front of a pro-Tech crowd that was waiting for something to cheer about, Notre Dame blew the game open.

Kenny Brooks and Virginia Tech were crushed at the start of the second half. (Ivan Morozov)

Three baskets in 1:03 forced Brooks to call timeout. Four more over the next three minutes extended the run to 20-0. Tech’s deficit, which was as little as five with 2:44 left in the first half, ballooned to 25 points less than five minutes into the third quarter. That stretch featured seven missed field goals and five turnovers for the Hokies.

“When they went on that run to start off, we were just sloppy,” Tech guard Georgia Amoore said. “We didn’t play defense like we did the first half. We like to say that we want to do a third quarter blitz. Well, they blitzed us at the start of the third quarter. I think from then on, they had the aggression and they had their heads down and we were put back on our heels again.”

The Hokies experienced a scoring drought of over seven minutes. They were eventually pulled out by Amoore’s jumper with 5:30 left in the third, but Notre Dame answered with back-to-back baskets. It outscored Tech 28-17 in the period and ran away with it from there.

Amoore scored a game-high 24 points and made 11 of her 29 field goals (38%) while adding three assists. But only Olivia Summiel joined her in double figures with 10 points and a career-high 18 rebounds.

“I love that our defense is what is igniting us right now,” Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey said. “… We really focused on Amoore. I felt like she was the engine and that was our main focus. We wanted to contain everyone, defend the 3-point line, but really put a lot of pressure on Amoore. Just try to deny her, trap her, get the ball out of her hands and put multiple bodies on her.”

The Hokies had opportunities to answer the bell; they just didn’t. Five other players chipped in the other 19 points outside of Amoore and Summiel: King (6), Wenzel (5), Clara Strack (4), Baker (3) and Micheaux (1). Matilda Ekh was scoreless for the third straight game.

Clara Strack and Virginia Tech couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities. (Ivan Morozov)

It was just a bad shooting day all around, including Amoore, and the dam broke — and was unrepairable — for the Hokies in the third quarter.

Tech was good on the glass and out-rebounded the Irish 42-38 but didn’t do enough across the board in the second half. Though it made five of its six shots in a stretch at the end of the third and start of the fourth, which cut the margin to 15, Notre Dame responded with ease with three straight buckets. In the second half, it made 21 of its 32 field goals (65%).

Tech did an OK job against Hidalgo — she finished the game with 15 points (5-of-13), six rebounds and six assists while picking up four fouls — but struggled to contain the trio of Sonia Citron (19 points, 7-of-12), Maddy Westbeld (18 points, 8-of-16) and Anna DeWolfe (14 points, 4-of-5 3FG).

“I don’t think we were good at all defensively,” Brooks said.

It wasn’t a completely unexpected loss for the Hokies given the circumstances, but it was a deflating one in many ways. They didn’t really have an opportunity to get set in the second half before they were punched in the mouth by the Irish and were overwhelmed.

The ACC regular-season champions and reigning tournament champions just didn’t have it on Saturday. Does it hurt their NCAA Tournament résumé? That’s up for the selection committee to decide.

It’s almost an identical situation to last year’s Notre Dame team, which lost All-American Olivia Miles in the regular-season finale, barely scraped out a win in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals before getting drubbed (by 26) in the semifinals. The Irish were a top-16 team according to the committee and kept Miles’ status close to the vest. (She still has not played since her injury.) As a result, they were granted a No. 3 seed in the dance.

Where will Olivia Summiel and the Hokies land in the NCAA Tournament? (Ivan Morozov)

It’s quite the parallel for Virginia Tech, who lost three of its last four games without the three-time ACC Player of the Year but was the No. 5 seed in the committee’s top 16 reveal before that.

Now all the Hokies can do is wait and hope they get a chance to host games in the Big Dance. Though they won’t play for at least 13 days — and Selection Sunday is over a week away — Amoore said they need to bounce back with the right mindset.

“It’s easy to get down and negative and think about all the bad things, but really we have to adapt a kick-us-forward mentality,” Amoore said. “Clearly, we didn’t play well, and it’s going to be blatantly obvious on film. … We just didn’t play well. We did stupid stuff, and if we eliminated half of that, then it would have been a more interesting game. If we had made more shots, it would have been an interesting game. It’s nothing magical. It’s simple stuff that we can achieve.”

Box Score: No. 14 Notre Dame 82, No. 11 Virginia Tech 53

13 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Thanks for the info on ND parallels from last year. Very interesting. Shows how losing a key player in March is tough to adjust to.

    As for the poster who commented on fouling… I was at the tournament Wed – Sat and the officials did not call many fouls and it was brutal at times. This was for all games. Coaches were pissed.

  2. I’m wondering if a ND foul was called in either of the above photos? Looks like could to me.

  3. Players get hot, players get cold. Kitley is the constant though and if she can’t go, sure, it hurts but I feel for her, not cause we lost. You know she wants to be out there. We need the break, regroup and find the game plan without Kitley if she can’t go. The screen game with Amoore and Kitley was huge and you can’t replace that in a week. If Kitley can’t play, we are obviously a different team and now Brooks has time to scheme it up and get them ready. Don’t have to play back to back in the NCAA tourney. Whole different mindset. Let’s go Hokies!

  4. A bit disappointing that no one is stepping up their game in Kitley’s absence. I still believe in Brooks and this team – must play better but can still make a run

    1. They were seeded #1 lasy ear but lost Olivia Miles in their last regular season game, a 3 pt. win over Louisville. The Irish won their first ACC game by 6 over NCSU then lost in the semis to the same Louisville team they previously beat. History almost repeated itself today: We lost our semi today to ND by 29, they lost theirs last year by 26. ND went on to win their first round NCAA game 13 days later and 2nd R game 15 days later, both games w/o Miles and then lost to their 3rd R game to UMD the following week. We can hope to advance further if Liz’s condition enables her to play again in 2 weeks. In any case, today wasn’t our day but why would it be if our 3-time League MVP and First team AA doesn’t play. We also figure to shoot better than we have over the last 4 games. .

    2. I hate to say it, but ND is good and will be better next year. So will NC St as a young team this year with no single player, but a good team.

      Now these two games in the ACC Tournament gave the Freshmen lessons in the fire pit. We were without Liz and so the youngsters had to step up. They showed good D against Miami and squeaked out the win. ND we all knew was going to be tougher. It was a deeper team that had the top FR and had a star player on the bench all season. They will be tough next year. I look at those two games as a lesson to the team, what they will have to face next year. Strack showed us more than she had during the season, and she learned a lot and learned she has much to learn. I think Baker got experience on what she needs to work on.

      There will be a drop off next year, but I think if the players take the last few games to heart, they will come back stronger. Their main rivals IMO next year will be ND and NC St. And the league will be stronger next year with Stanford coming on board. Next year starts now.

  5. The fact that Ekh, King, Baker, and Wenzel have all shot poorly from three’s all under 22% has been a major factor

  6. Amoore makes it seem so simple to turn this around… isn’t.

    We’ve lost our greatest woman player ever and we simply are not talented enough to overcome that and go far in the tournament.

    Maybe a win, 2 is not realistic.

    Best good luck ladies. At least you will be in the tournament!

    1. Thanks for your pessimism and glad you have declared we can go nowhere in the tourney. And that Liz is definitely done (probably right). No we can’t be a final four team without her but to declare us dead is premature I will retain some optimism that we can improve and get a couple wins. A lot of young talent that hasn’t played together in the roles they are now forced to assume I like GA’s optimism more than your pessimism…

      1. I was optimistic until Ekh decided to go 0 for March. To replace Liz the veterans besides Amoore need to step up and so far they haven’t.

    2. What a pathetic post. You obviously have no clue about what the seeding committee will do with VT and you really have no idea what makes a team operate like a team. Are you known as Mr. Negativity around your home? I do hope not!!

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